If the ever-growing mountain of scientific evidence is to believed (which sadly isn’t a given anymore), once coffee gets all up inside you it pretty much improves anything it touches. Your liver, heart, GI tract, your brain, doesn’t matter, they’re all better and stronger because of coffee. But there has been one organ that has otherwise flown under the coffee-healthfulness radar: your kidneys. Thankfully, new research has rectified this oversight, finding that coffee consumption may be associated with a decreased risk of acute kidney injury (AKI), a sudden episode of kidney failure that can take place over days or even hours.
As reported by US News & World Report, the new study was published recently in the journal Kidney International Reports and is the collaborative work of researchers from Johns Hopkins University, the University of Colorado, and the University of Minnesota. For their findings, researchers used the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, which followed over 14,000 participants for an average of 24 years to “investigate the causes of atherosclerosis and its clinical outcomes, and variation in cardiovascular risk factors, medical care, and disease by race, gender, location, and date.”
When cross-referencing instances of AKI—1,694 in total—against self-reported coffee consumption information, researchers noted a downward trend in AKI for coffee drinkers. In particular, those who reported drinking one cup a day were associated with a 15% lower risk of AKI, with those drinking two and three cups daily being associated with a 22% and 23% lower risk, respectively. One of the study’s authors, Dr. Chirag Parikh, posits one potential explanation:
We suspect that the reason for coffee’s impact on AKI risk may be that either biologically active compounds combined with caffeine or just the caffeine itself improves perfusion and oxygen utilization within the kidneys… Good kidney function and tolerance to AKI is dependent on a steady blood supply and oxygen.
The study’s authors note that further researcher needs to be done in order to establish a causal link between coffee consumption and decreased risk of AKI as well as how things like cream and sugar—frequent additions to coffee drinks—may be positively or negatively affecting the outcomes.
Still, it’s just more proof that coffee is one of the best things you can be regularly dumping down your gullet. Thankfully it’s so tasty.